Time Management in the Age of COVID 

In a bit of a break from everything else that’s going on, I thought I would document (mostly for myself, but, hey, maybe it’s useful to someone else) how I manage my time/workload.

I’ve always had a pretty rigorous process that I try to adhere to, so that I can keep a number of plates spinning at once. During this new COVID reality, I’ve worked hard to adhere to my process and tools, as sitting just feet away form my computer (or with my iPad/iPhone) could lead to simply filling up every available minute with work.


Mostly, my life is run out of two inboxes. Mail and OmniFocus.


Much of my work comes in via email. Questions to answer, work to do or delegate, etc. There’s a lot that flows through here. I try to optimize this in a few ways:

These steps keep my inbox (and my unread message count) in the single digits (or, occasionally, empty), which for me, is a wonderful little place to be.

However, that does mean that lots of stuff ends up in my next inbox.


I swear by OmniFocus. I pay a lot of money every time there’s an upgrade, so I can run it on every device. Even if it’s not perfect, and there’s little UX things I’d like to change, it still is far more valuable to me than almost any other tool. Why?

Basically, it just lets me dump everything from my brain, my email, Slack, whatever, into a place where I can build little views that surface what matters to me.

There are a lot of ways to manage your life in OmniFocus. You can go down the rabbit hole with fiddly little bits. I try to limit that to occasional bursts of fiddliness. Mostly, I use a couple of views:

More or less, that’s it. Those are the big rules. Everything else is little things I do to make my life easier, but those are the big rocks that I don’t change that frequently, and it’s how I keep all my plates spinning.

There’s probably one other, minor, inbox for me …


Work pops up in Slack. Generally, I follow the same rules. The “defer” option though, is I’ll flag it as a Saved Item. If it’s Saved, and has been there for more than a couple of days, I’ll move it into OmniFocus. If it’s Saved, because I need to store the info, it goes into something like Notes.

Those are the processes/tools I use to keep my life afloat. I mostly talked about work, but personal tasks also follow these same rules. So I can just run my life off of my laptop, or my phone, or my iPad, whatever tool I happen to have in front of me. And I don’t worry about missing something, because I can quickly drop it into OmniFocus (I’m starting to play around with Drafts for quick capture, but I’m not all the way there yet).

It does give me comfort to know that, mostly, if stuff matters, I’ve got it captured somewhere.

  1. I think I use this more than anything. I ship emails into OmniFocus at least a few times a day.